Friday 28th August 2015

IT’S happened again.

For the second year in a row, a popular Dumbarton player has left the building only weeks into the season.

This time last year Andy Graham was watching Bryan Prunty leave Championship Sons to join League One Airdrieonians.

Now he’s the one swapping divisions, with his departure from the club after three years as captain announced last week.

Ayr United are the defender’s new team, with his signing at Somerset Park announced last night. He now hopes that having not been guaranteed first-team football with Sons, he’ll get it with the Honest Men instead.

But for Andy, with so much to look back on, the decision to leave Dumbarton was a hard one.

Speaking before his move to Ayr was announced, Andy said: “I really enjoyed my time at Dumbarton and would like to thank the club and the fans for the opportunity not just to play, but to captain the club.

“It was sad for me to leave, but as a player it was the right decision.

“After playing in the Hibs game I didn’t play against St Mirren and I thought it would be tough to get my place back in the team.

“I had a chat with the manager and he said his preferred partnership at centre half was Darren Barr and Gregor Buchanan, and that he planned to bring in another centre half(Frazer Wright).

“He told me I could stay and fight for my place but I wondered if it was a fight I could realistically win. I’m 31 and I really need to be playing football every week – not just playing the odd game.

“After three seasons of playing virtually every game, becoming a bit-part player would have been difficult.”

Anybody fearing the prospect of seeing Andy in opposition to Dumbarton needn’t have worried.

While he had “a few calls”, none of them had been from Championship clubs – and a move to another part-time side suits him fine.

He continued: “For me to go full-time would have taken a very good offer and with the way Scottish football is, that’s not going to happen.

“I have a young family and I need to keep my job going outside the game. The most important thing is just to get somewhere I can play football.”

Andy’s three full seasons with Dumbarton have ranged from surviving relegation against the odds to an unthinkable challenge for promotion.

However, he’s in no doubt as to which of the campaigns stands out as being the best.

He said: “In my first season we were completely written off, with two points at the start of November. As a group of players we were very low and to go from that to staying up was a really good feeling; an incredible turnaround.

“But to then finish fifth, very close to Queen of the South, and reaching the Scottish Cup quarter finals, I would need to say that’s been my best season at Dumbarton.

“It’s the best in terms of memories and enjoyment. We won our fair share of games that year and pushed really hard.”

Andy was keen to pay tribute to the supporters on his departure from Sons – but although he’s gone, he’s certain they’ll still have plenty to cheer.

He added: “From my point of view there are no hard feelings. I’d just like to thank the fans for everything they’ve given the club – they’ve always been fantastic.

“Even when we were getting well beaten by Hearts last season they stuck with us. I’ll look back in years to come and feel proud to be captain of the club.

“I think Dumbarton can do really well this season. They’ve signed some really experienced players and I’ve no doubts about what they can achieve.

“It’s a really tough league but they’re off to a great start and I’m confident they’ll continue to do well.”

Andy Galloway @AGallowaySport

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